Hospitals in eight NHS trusts had to resort to using pen and paper when a datacentre hardware fault cut off their access to new multi-billion pound patient systems.

The hospitals lost access to the systems for several hours on February 10, 2009 after a hardware fault hit a datacentre run by CSC, according to sources close to the problem.

The problem initially hit Ipswich Hospital in Suffolk, and then went on to affect seven other NHS trusts. The NHS declined to name the other trusts affected, but they are understood to have been in the same region.

Sources said the hospitals were unable to access the central iSoft Lorenzo patient administration system until the evening, forcing a return to pen and paper, and complicating administration tasks.

CSC declined to comment on the claims that there was a hardware fault, citing commercial confidentiality, but insisted no sensitive patient data was lost and "there was no impact to patient care".

The NHS told CIO UK sister title Computerworld UK there was "no evidence of risk to patients".

A spokesperson at Ipswich Hospital Primary Care Trust said the trust took patient confidentiality “extremely seriously”. The spokesperson denied patient information was held on the systems affected, except for treatment times and other basic administrative data.

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It is not the first problem at a CSC datacentre serving NHS trusts. In 2006, a 45-minute power outage at the CSC Maidstone datacentre, and problems restarting systems, left 80 NHS trusts using paper systems when backup technology did not initially work. CSC took a penalty of £8.5 million for that event.

CSC declined to answer questions on whether it would be likely to incur penalty payments for this latest datacentre outage.

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